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Two weeks ago, the story of Mary Lambert became major national news. The audacity of firing an older woman from her long held position as Sunday school teacher based on her gender angered many. Since the initial report, the church and the pastor have tried to give a fuller picture of the situation. Conflict between Pastor LaBouf and Ms. Lambert started when he first began serving two years ago. Ms. Lambert was part of a small group of members who challenged the changes he made in the structure and official theology of the church. This disagreement caused a rift in their relationship and, according to church officials, led to her being let go from her position. According to the press release from the church, the reasons for Mary Lambert’s dismissal were “multifaceted and the s... Read more
I've been reading the recent issue of Priscilla Papers (Summer 2006). I have been struck by both Catherine Clark Kroeger and Philip B. Bayne's use of history in their respective articles on 1 Corinthians 11. In Kroeger's article she is looking at what kephalē, "head," means in 1 Corinthians 11:3: "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ" (NASB). She uses a plethora of secular, Jewish, and early Christian historical sources to show that the conventional meaning of kephalē means "source" or "beginning," not a hierarchal understanding of a boss or somone who has authority over other people. Bayne does the same thing in his... Read more
Sometimes the simplest conversations can turn out to be the most complicated. Take for example, the insistence of a relative of mine that a woman should accept her husband’s last name in deference to his headship. Even though I pointed out that the idea of a surname is a relatively recent invention in human history—not even addressed by Scripture—the conversation meandered into several uncomfortable moments leaving him to resolve it by admitting he just preferred it. There was a certain quaintness and comfort in the tradition from which he wasn’t yet ready to part. Admittedly, I understood, even if I disagreed. While egalitarians are often accused by patriarchalists of capitulating to culture and its demands, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a trap fro... Read more
It's wonderful, and perhaps all too rare, when countries realize their mistakes and take steps to correct them. China Daily reports that the imbalance between the numbers of boys and girls in China is growing so severe that if left unchecked there will be 25 million men in China between 2015 and 2030 with no hope of finding a mate. Many Chinese parents abort the wife's pregnancy if tests show the fetus is female so that they can try again for a boy. As a result, there are 119 boys born for every 100 girls in China; the rest of the world averages between 103 and 107 boys for 100 girls. But China has stepped up legal action and has prosecuted 3,000 cases of gender selective abortion for non-medical purposes over the past two years. China's State Population an... Read more
Poverty and injustice discriminate. And the health and well-being of women around the world suffer because of it. Many of us who live in privilege do not worry about their daughters being raped during war or being forced into prostitution. Many of us who live in privilege do not think about injustice and inequality at all, because it doesn’t seem to be a necessary or pressing concern. We are in a place to make the choice between apathy and becoming aware. But the vast majority of people who live in poverty do not have that choice to make, because the structures that surround them or the people who are in power over them have already made another choice: to force their advantage. I do not mean to deny the agency of people living in poverty, no, far from that. What I do mean... Read more
There is an excellent article on godswordtowomen.org called, "Empirical Data in Support of Egalitarian Marriages and A Fresh Perspective on Submission and Authority," that reviews many scientific studies that all say that marriages that operate on the basis of equality are much more healthy than those that are hierarchical -- in fact that hierarchical approaches actually harm marriages. The research reviewed include studies by the following professionals who work within the fields of marriage and family therapy, sociology, and demography: A 2001 Barna Research Group survey of Christian denominations. Dr. Howard Clinebell, Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Psychology and Counseling, Claremont School of Theology Drs. Alan Booth and Paul Amato, Penn State socio... Read more
Often the gender debate focuses narrowly on leadership and marriage, at the expense of many. But leadership and marriage are two of the highest ideals in Christian culture, right? Why would this debate be at anyone’s expense? As we live as Christians, what is the normative metaphor for relationships between men and women? Growing up in the church and then attending a Christian college taught me that marriage is a Christian “virtue.” The vast majority of my peers desired to be married and would date according to the various trends for Christian dating. In order to ensure that this virtue be at the center of their futures, my friends “courted,” they “kissed dating goodbye,” they practiced “righteous dating,” they dated with “ag... Read more
The Evangelical Christian Publishing Association (ECPA) has announced this year’s finalists for their Christian Book Awards. Normally, I do not pay attention to these types of awards, because I like to judge a book for myself rather than take somebody else’s word for it whether the book is good or not. However, a couple of entries under the category of “Best Bible” disturb me. They are The Holman CSB Minister's Bible and The ESV Reformation Study Bible. Let me explain why it bothers me that either of these would be considered the best Bible that Christians can study. To begin with, both the CSB and the ESV were created as a protest to the TNIV. How do we know this? Well, let’s take a look at the CSB first. It is published by Broadm... Read more
When the messiah comes, says the Old Testament, he will “proclaim freedom for the captives.” (Is. 61:1 TNIV) Jesus the Messiah came, but he brought something better than the expected freedom from foreign domination: instead, he was interested in making people’s spirits free. Jesus himself said, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (Jn. 8:34-36 TNIV) Of all the authors of the Old and New Testaments, Paul speaks most often about freedom. Christ, he says, brings freedom from sin (Rom. 6:18-22; 7:14), freedom from death (Rom. 7:24-25; 8:2, 10-11) and especially freedom from the bondage of the [Jewish... Read more
Recently there was a blog post regarding preferential treatment given to men, even by those who espouse egalitarian beliefs. How can this happen ? It is very evident that the cultural mindset over such a long time is deeper than many first imagined and so it is no wonder than it keeps resurfacing in the most unlikely places. It occurs to me that something that has taken hundreds of years to become entrenched will not go away just by careful exegesis and teaching. Attitudes will change in the same way they developed - very slowly and with repeated statements and demonstrated truth. We need to find ways of "speaking the truth in love" to those who have differing beliefs about gender issues and use opportunities as they occur to encourage a better way to speak and act in compan... Read more

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